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  • FIRST POST
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 1st Mar 18, 1:20 PM
    • 24Posts
    • 2Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    They're taking my business :-(
    • #1
    • 1st Mar 18, 1:20 PM
    They're taking my business :-( 1st Mar 18 at 1:20 PM
    ** resolved - see post #33**

    I've made myself bankrupt, as it seemed the best way of dealing with my debts (mostly unpaid taxes, but also some credit cards etc from 6+ years ago). My total debts were on the order of 50k or so.

    I felt I was quite safe to do so, as I don't have any assets as such to speak of. I had a niggling doubt in my head that the website I run as my main source of income could be considered an asset, but I figured they would never want to take that away as it's MY MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME.

    After an hour's interview today the OR and I agreed that over 3 years I am to pay back a couple of hundred every month. Fine.

    He then dropped the bombshell via email that my website is now the property of the OR, and that I need to hand over the registration certificate for it and make "a reasonalbe offer" to buy it back from them.

    Obviously I have no money with which to buy it back. I think the implication is that I'm supposed to beg a friend/relation to buy it back for me. I understand why, they want to get some money out of me for my creditors, and this seems like a good way of them doing it.

    But I don't think I know anyone who would be in a position to make "a reasonable offer". How much are they going to want? It makes a profit of about 20k a year, which is why I've now applied for bankruptcy as I thought I was making enough money to stand on my own feet and pay taxes like a real person, if I could get a fresh start, which I thought was the point of a bankruptcy :-(

    Then there's this bit: "if we are not in receipt of a satisfactory offer the Official Receiver may consider closing the website or realising it for the benefit of creditors as they do not want to be liable for any costs associated with it."

    I'm of the opinion that without me the website is worth very little, as the admin system I've rigged together over the years is far from user-friendly, it'd need someone with a fairly unique combination of technical skills and interest in my niche to run it, and even then there would be a lot of work to be done to make it more usable by an outsider. And would they want to put in 12hr+ days every day to make 20k profit a year... probably not!

    So, any advice, what can I do?

    This website is a passion of mine, and also my income. I know I'm very fortunate that my job is something I LOVE doing, and maybe as a bankruptee I don't deserve to be that fortunate... but I really don't know what I'll do if they take it away from me. It's been my life for years, and aside from my wife is the only thing in the world that I care about even slightly :-(
    Last edited by sortingmyshitout; 17-04-2018 at 6:15 PM.
Page 2
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 2nd Mar 18, 8:41 AM
    • 37,095 Posts
    • 156,270 Thanks
    silvercar
    Trying to think of analogies.

    If you were a luxury mini cab driver, would they take the car and suggest that you buy a cheaper car and become a standard mini cab driver? Quite probably.

    If you leased a black cab, would they let you continue the lease? Quite probably.

    If you were a tradesman with a van, they would value the van take it off you and allow you sufficient to buy a cheaper van.

    Contrarily, if you own a rental property, even with no equity, they take the rent and don't allow you anything to pay the mortgage.

    Whatever they do with this website, they can't force you to work for it. So no way can they say they are taking control but expect you to do whatever is necessary to maintain it's value. That in itself must limit it's value. I suspect you may have an OR that doesn't understand the separation of the site alone and the work behind it. Maybe the website address has a perceived value.
    • benten69
    • By benten69 2nd Mar 18, 9:55 AM
    • 321 Posts
    • 1,326 Thanks
    benten69
    Surely if you have backups of everything you can let them take it and re-launch the exact same thing under a new brand name. The fact you have done all the leg work already is half the battle, the other half is establishing your brand. Obviously that part will have to be done again, making a name for the website.

    However as above, sounds like the OR doesn't understand that without you the website will basically be nothing more than a domain name. If they take it and no-one buys it off them what are they going to do? Let the domain laps and the website disappear into the abyss? Effectively meaning they won't make a penny off it.

    Think you need to make them understand that without you the website isn't worth a penny and that if they take it you quite simply cannot afford to buy it back which means you will lose your income and will not even be able to afford the 200 a month you have already agreed to.
    Emergency Fund - 100% Complete | Motorcycle Fund - 2.2% Complete
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    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 2nd Mar 18, 9:59 AM
    • 3,397 Posts
    • 2,573 Thanks
    AndyPix
    What is the website ? (pm me if you dont want it public)


    If it is a site that has intrinsic value as it is, ie a site that sells stuff and has customers then that is one thing.


    But if it is a site that provides information for example - and YOU are the source of that information ie you are an expert on whatever subject it covers, then it has no value in its-self


    It's hard to guage without seeing the site first - has the OR had a proper look ?
    And did he/she understand it ?
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • Mgman1965
    • By Mgman1965 2nd Mar 18, 1:53 PM
    • 100 Posts
    • 101 Thanks
    Mgman1965
    What is the website ? (pm me if you dont want it public)


    If it is a site that has intrinsic value as it is, ie a site that sells stuff and has customers then that is one thing.


    But if it is a site that provides information for example - and YOU are the source of that information ie you are an expert on whatever subject it covers, then it has no value in its-self


    It's hard to guage without seeing the site first - has the OR had a proper look



    And did he/she understand it ?
    Originally posted by AndyPix


    Whichever it is, surely without the OP it is worth only the domain name.


    If it sells things, unlike a shop say, it wouldn't be sold with stock, fixtures, fittings and man to keep updated. So just a basic domain name with just domain name value.


    if info site, as said value is the domain name with the man with the relevant info to run it.


    I'd be tempted to tell them to keep it then, and restart. First id see if the same domain name is available with .com if OP's is .co.uk say.
    Last edited by Mgman1965; 02-03-2018 at 1:56 PM.
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 2nd Mar 18, 2:25 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    No stock, it's an information/analysis/digital photo website. I take a commission of any photos that a set of freelance photographers upload to the site, but it's partly the information/analysis that I provide that keeps people coming back to the site.
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 2nd Mar 18, 2:34 PM
    • 3,397 Posts
    • 2,573 Thanks
    AndyPix
    ^^ In that case, YOU are the value -
    The site its-self is probly woth a few pounds depending on the domain name


    You need to explain that to the OR
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • Flyright
    • By Flyright 2nd Mar 18, 2:55 PM
    • 319 Posts
    • 176 Thanks
    Flyright
    It's not as simple as starting again with a new website as while you are bankrupt you have to trade in the name that you were declared bankrupt.

    If you trade in a different name you have to tell everyone you deal with of the name in which you were made bankrupt.
    • pauledowa
    • By pauledowa 2nd Mar 18, 10:16 PM
    • 19 Posts
    • 14 Thanks
    pauledowa
    First of all, kudos for having created a profitable online business, your present circumstances notwithstanding.

    Starting again is risky and virtually certain to cost more in lost profits than the OR expects to get for the asset.

    I am not so sure that the website is worthless without your involvement. It's probably automated to some extent, which means it can run unattended for a few weeks or months, generating profit for the estate (20k / year translates into 384 pw). It would be a waste, sure, but who said asset liquidation must be rational.

    I think you should make an offer to the OR and see what they say. The amount would depend on the degree to which the site is automated and your negotiating skill. I think anything from zero to a multiple of the yearly profit is possible.

    Based on what I have read in this thread, my initial offer would be 500-1,000, accompanied by a statement explaining how the website is essentially a tool of trade that cannot run itself.
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 3rd Mar 18, 2:24 PM
    • 37,095 Posts
    • 156,270 Thanks
    silvercar
    It's not as simple as starting again with a new website as while you are bankrupt you have to trade in the name that you were declared bankrupt.

    If you trade in a different name you have to tell everyone you deal with of the name in which you were made bankrupt.
    Originally posted by Flyright
    OP is self employed, so would be trading as Mr X before and after bankruptcy. I can't see that the OR would have the power to force the same website to be used. What would happen if the rights to the domain name were lost?

    I would think it possible for OP to inform the freelance photographers that he was moving to a new domain name and operating as before.

    Analogy: oven cleaning business that used to advertise through one of the big names, informs loyal customers that he is moving to a new big name where they can still book his services.
    • debt doctor
    • By debt doctor 3rd Mar 18, 2:58 PM
    • 4,239 Posts
    • 5,911 Thanks
    debt doctor
    Hi,

    The OR currently owns the asset that is your business. The asset is the website, any stock, customer lists, etc.

    It could be that you are the main asset in the business, but this is often not the case.

    Things I have seen before are a sandwich shop, with a lease and a customer delivery list - this business has a resale value without the current owner. OR wanted (and got 5k for that one)
    or
    I've seen a window cleaner round be an asset, (3k I think) as the round had a business resale value.

    So you have to think, if you were not bankrupt, and wanted to retire or move in to a different business area - could you sell it as a going concern? If you could, then the OR can too, and wants the money for it.

    These things are all about bargaining. Currently the business belongs to the OR - and the risks also belong to the OR, so they will be looking to minimise their risk whilst maximising their return.

    The OR claims it has a value so ask them how much, how they arrive at that value and how they intend to realise this value.One thing you certainly have is that no business equals no IPA (not sure if you think your IPA is fair, but that's another matter).

    If an OR cannot raise money on the asset then they will look to disclaim it, as it is also a liability.

    DD
    Debt Doctor, Debt caseworker, Citizens' Advice Bureau .
    Impartial debt advice services: Citizens Advice Bureau Find your local CAB *** National Debtline - Tel: 0808 808 4000*** BSC No. 100 ***
    • 30summit
    • By 30summit 15th Mar 18, 9:52 AM
    • 11 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    30summit
    How did you get on?

    As someone else mentioned, sometimes it is best to speak with your OR over the phone.... They are not there to damage you..
    • Tarambor
    • By Tarambor 15th Mar 18, 3:08 PM
    • 2,671 Posts
    • 1,919 Thanks
    Tarambor
    Was the website actually run as a business or a hobby? If it was run as a business, you registered as self employed doing it properly as a business then they wouldn't touch it. So for them to be taking it it suggests that you actually weren't. Did you declare the 20k you earned from it to anyone?

    If you ran it as a hobby and didn't declare the income because for whatever reason you thought you didn't have to then you're going to lose the site.
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 9th Apr 18, 10:36 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    So in the end I submitted an offer of 2500. The OR handed me over to an auctioneer that they'd been in touch with to try to value the business. He tried to haggle me up to 3500 (although he understood my position and thought it was a fair offer considering the ongoing work I have to put into the site to make it profitable) but I stood firm and have now (with the aid of my loving wife) bought the website back for 2500.
    Last edited by sortingmyshitout; 09-04-2018 at 10:40 AM.
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 9th Apr 18, 10:38 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    Was the website actually run as a business or a hobby? If it was run as a business, you registered as self employed doing it properly as a business then they wouldn't touch it. So for them to be taking it it suggests that you actually weren't. Did you declare the 20k you earned from it to anyone?

    If you ran it as a hobby and didn't declare the income because for whatever reason you thought you didn't have to then you're going to lose the site.
    Originally posted by Tarambor
    I've never registered it as an actual business, I just run it in my self-employed capacity as a sole trader. I've not paid any tax on it for a number of years though; it always seemed too big a thing to deal with when I had overhanging debts to HMRC from years previously.

    I feel much better about myself and life in general now that I've made the step of declaring bankruptcy so that I feel I *can* start paying my taxes again!
    • Tarambor
    • By Tarambor 9th Apr 18, 2:10 PM
    • 2,671 Posts
    • 1,919 Thanks
    Tarambor
    I've never registered it as an actual business, I just run it in my self-employed capacity as a sole trader. I've not paid any tax on it for a number of years though; it always seemed too big a thing to deal with when I had overhanging debts to HMRC from years previously.

    I feel much better about myself and life in general now that I've made the step of declaring bankruptcy so that I feel I *can* start paying my taxes again!
    Originally posted by sortingmyshitout
    You need to contact the HMRC and explain. If you've generated 20k income a year and you've not been paying any tax on it via self assessment then you're committing tax evasion. The longer you leave it the more the penalties and interest on the amount due rack up. The amount up to the date you were declared bankrupt would be included in bankruptcy but from then on wouldn't be.
    • Potbellypig
    • By Potbellypig 9th Apr 18, 8:48 PM
    • 179 Posts
    • 80 Thanks
    Potbellypig
    I've made myself bankrupt, as it seemed the best way of dealing with my debts (mostly unpaid taxes, but also some credit cards etc from 6+ years ago). My total debts were on the order of 50k or so.

    I felt I was quite safe to do so, as I don't have any assets as such to speak of. I had a niggling doubt in my head that the website I run as my main source of income could be considered an asset, but I figured they would never want to take that away as it's MY MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME.

    After an hour's interview today the OR and I agreed that over 3 years I am to pay back a couple of hundred every month. Fine.

    He then dropped the bombshell via email that my website is now the property of the OR, and that I need to hand over the registration certificate for it and make "a reasonalbe offer" to buy it back from them.

    Obviously I have no money with which to buy it back. I think the implication is that I'm supposed to beg a friend/relation to buy it back for me. I understand why, they want to get some money out of me for my creditors, and this seems like a good way of them doing it.

    But I don't think I know anyone who would be in a position to make "a reasonable offer". How much are they going to want? It makes a profit of about 20k a year, which is why I've now applied for bankruptcy as I thought I was making enough money to stand on my own feet and pay taxes like a real person, if I could get a fresh start, which I thought was the point of a bankruptcy :-(

    Then there's this bit: "if we are not in receipt of a satisfactory offer the Official Receiver may consider closing the website or realising it for the benefit of creditors as they do not want to be liable for any costs associated with it."

    I'm of the opinion that without me the website is worth very little, as the admin system I've rigged together over the years is far from user-friendly, it'd need someone with a fairly unique combination of technical skills and interest in my niche to run it, and even then there would be a lot of work to be done to make it more usable by an outsider. And would they want to put in 12hr+ days every day to make 20k profit a year... probably not!

    So, any advice, what can I do?

    This website is a passion of mine, and also my income. I know I'm very fortunate that my job is something I LOVE doing, and maybe as a bankruptee I don't deserve to be that fortunate... but I really don't know what I'll do if they take it away from me. It's been my life for years, and aside from my wife is the only thing in the world that I care about even slightly :-(
    Originally posted by sortingmyshitout
    I've never registered it as an actual business, I just run it in my self-employed capacity as a sole trader. I've not paid any tax on it for a number of years though; it always seemed too big a thing to deal with when I had overhanging debts to HMRC from years previously.

    I feel much better about myself and life in general now that I've made the step of declaring bankruptcy so that I feel I *can* start paying my taxes again!
    Originally posted by sortingmyshitout
    You haven't paid tax for years on, as you put it, ''YOUR MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME''. I wouldn't be worrying about the bankruptcy anymore. I'd be worrying about HMRC coming back to you on years of unpaid tax.

    Your arrogance is quite staggering, in all honesty.
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 10th Apr 18, 7:46 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    You need to contact the HMRC and explain. If you've generated 20k income a year and you've not been paying any tax on it via self assessment then you're committing tax evasion. The longer you leave it the more the penalties and interest on the amount due rack up. The amount up to the date you were declared bankrupt would be included in bankruptcy but from then on wouldn't be.
    Originally posted by Tarambor
    I submitted all of my historical tax returns before declaring my bankruptcy, and the man who arrived on my doorstep from HMRC that finally prompted me to sort my !!!! out knows this and knows I've opted for bankruptcy. So I think I'm ok there?
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 10th Apr 18, 7:47 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    You haven't paid tax for years on, as you put it, ''YOUR MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME''. I wouldn't be worrying about the bankruptcy anymore. I'd be worrying about HMRC coming back to you on years of unpaid tax.

    Your arrogance is quite staggering, in all honesty.
    Originally posted by Potbellypig
    See my last reply. Do you still think I need to be concerned? I don't think I'm betting arrogant at all, just trying to get my life back on track after some poor decisions many years ago
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 10th Apr 18, 8:18 AM
    • 37,095 Posts
    • 156,270 Thanks
    silvercar
    See my last reply. Do you still think I need to be concerned? I don't think I'm betting arrogant at all, just trying to get my life back on track after some poor decisions many years ago
    Originally posted by sortingmyshitout
    I think you are fine now. If you submitted tax returns for the dodgy years, hmrc can see that the tax was due and that it now falls into your bankruptcy.

    Going forward obviously you will be on their radar, so tax returns need to be accurate and verifiable.
    • sortingmyshitout
    • By sortingmyshitout 11th Apr 18, 11:40 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    sortingmyshitout
    Certainly. I've spoken to the OR who has confirmed I have a nil tax code for 2017-2018, but that I will need to pay tax on income from April 2018 onwards. Savings account opened, first bit of tax money stuffed into it. I'm disconcertingly excited about saving money for a tax return and completing and paying it on time - although I guess that won't be until Jan 31st 2020, distant! (I know I'll have to submit one this year as well, just not one that I have to pay)
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